24 Responses to “The Grocery Budget Challenge: Week #1 ($236)”


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  1. Melissa

    How big is the bag of Powdered sugar that costs $4.49? I think that price is insane. Also I buy bananas every week and I pay 10cents cheaper. I am surprise they are a bit more at whole foods.

  2. Holly

    We switched to shopping at Acme/Price Chopper (leaving Whole Foods behind) and were able to significantly cut our food budget. We meal plan around the weekly curcular and stock up when things we love are on sale.

    Good luck!

  3. E @ Oh! Apostrophe

    I honestly do not think that’s unreasonable. You bought quality whole (ha!) foods. What’s the true cost to your family of buying cheaper (and maybe more processed or nonorganic) food? We spend around $200/week mainly at whole foods, for 2 adults and 1 toddler (who eats quite a bit). The other thing to consider is your time- how much time did it take to make extra stops for cheaper items? I used to always shop at Target for boxed/canned items, but I’m realizing the extra stop might not be worth a few dollars of savings. (That and I always find something extra to add to my cart at Target!) I don’t mean to discourage your goal of cutting back, but if it makes you feel good to feed your family well, it might be worth making room in the budget!

    • Andrea

      I agree! I don’t know what your shopping options are where you live…whole foods may be the only option near you for good quality food. Living in Portland, all regular grocery stores have a great selection of natural/organic food & produce mixed in with conventional foods. My local store has even expanded its meat section to include free range/grass fed/organic options priced way less than WF. It helps me because I don’t have to go to 3 different stores every week since I don’t buy everything organic (just dirty dozen, dairy, and most meat). This saves me $$ and time, but being a working mom, I would pay extra for some items if it saved me the hassle.
      My biggest way to cut costs is just buy what perishable items I need for the week. Sure, the big tub of spinach is way cheaper per oz compared to the little one, but if I’m throwing half of it out cuz I didn’t use it fast enough, that’s $$ down the drain.

      • Heather

        I agree that don’t think this is that bad at all for the amount and quality of food you chose, but it is sure interesting. I’m so bad I don’t even know how much we spend per week. I think while you are doing this challenge I will start saving receipts just to see how much the total is. I’m envious of Andrea with her local store’s meat selection. We have pretty good organic dairy and fruits/veggies, but the meat is just not what I would buy, which means I have to go to whole foods anyway ‚Ķ and then you know what happens once you’re there.

  4. Tiffany

    I can totally relate and I wish you didn’t need to caveat that you’re already unhappy with the amount for the inevitable person who criticizes you about how much you spend! Food is the place in our budget that we’re working on cutting back on as well. We didn’t used to go to big warehouse stores, but we just joined Costco and that’s one thing that has been helping. I’ve also been trying to limit the number of recipes with expensive single ingredients we eat in one week. For example, we like a lamb kebab recipe, but the lamb alone ends up being $9 and that doesn’t include the other ingredients. We also spent entirely too much on eating out (mostly for lunch) so we’re working on that too.

    I’m excited to follow along and see what you learn as I’d love to get a few more tips myself!

  5. Emily

    I have the same issues. I look at your list and think there’s no way you eat all 10 of those avocados before they go bad. 4.5 pounds of bananas also seems unlikely. Does Whole Foods have “meatball mix”… I know S&S does. $5 for 7 lemons seems high. And do you need your kids to snack on fresh mozzarella versus another cheaper cheese? Just some ideas. I spend way too much too, but I’m more appalled by my waste.

  6. Zeinab

    When i used to live in Philly we did most of our shopping at Reading Terminal Market. Theirs a store called Iovine i think that sells produce at a reasonable price and had awesome quality! Also, theres a butcher shop near Lombard called Quetta that has local, grass fed, organic meats for an amazing price.

  7. Charuta

    This post is so timely. I just relocated to US a month back and the food costs have left me wondering. I also seem to always run out of stuff and need to make atleast one trip every week ( for other than milk), no matter how much I buy. We are a family of three with my son who is Raffi’s age.
    Hopefully, your challenge & tips will help me in better planning too

  8. Briana

    I’m in the same boat as you!

  9. Melissa C

    I believe .69/lb for bananas are for the organic bananas at whole foods, correct? If so, you dont have to buy organic bananas. Its one of the lower foods with pesticides that you can do conventional. Avocado as well. They have thick skins that are removed and not eaten. You can look up the Dirty Dozen and buy only those fruits/veggies organic as they are the ones with the higher pesticide count.

    • I thought the same thing about bananas but after doing some research on the pesticides used on them I’ll never buy a conventional banana again. The effects the pesticides have on the workers are astounding… Anyways, I do second checking out the dirty dozen list. That helped my mind and grocery bill knowing we didn’t have to buy everything organic!

  10. Vicky

    Please don’t be embarrassed by your spending! Some weeks I spend less, some more. I am more embarrassed if I waste too much food.

  11. Eileen

    Hi. I think you are doing a very good job feeding your family healthy whole foods !! I tip I use is when whole foods is having a sale on meats I stock up and keep in the freezer. If you have a little extra cash buy extra of things on sale to last six weeks. That is usually the sale cycle. You can also stock up on canned or jarred goods also. Good Luck !

  12. Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s obvious you are buying high quality food and sadly that tends to cost a little more. We were consistently under $125 a week for a family of 3 (one being a hungry toddler), but I feel like it keeps creeping up. I blame new recipes I’ve gotten hooked on trying.

    I probably need to do a similar check-in with how much we are spending, but don’t let yourself feel badly about it. I prioritize quality food over a lot of other things in life so while I might be eating a freaking $4 organic pepper (crazy how pricey those are!), I’m also wearing boots that are 4 years old and my toe peeks through ūüėČ

  13. Kristin

    This doesn’t seem that unreasonable to me. The stuff you got at BJs seems like it will last much longer than a week, so I wouldn’t really consider that as part of your weekly spending. I spend between $100-150 at Whole Foods and Trader Joes each week for myself, my husband and our two year old, and I’m pregnant right now. Some of the stuff you got at Whole Foods would be cheaper at Trader Joes, but really that doesn’t seem so bad!

  14. Tricia

    If you only eat out that one day, I don’t think that’s terrible… but I spend close to that in a month!!

  15. lauren

    Ugh. Timely post for sure. I swear, whole foods has a ton of stuff I buy organic/store brand for less than stop and shop, but it is farther away so I go between the two. We just went to bj’s this weekend too and while their organic selection is improving, I wish they had more! We usually buy the hormone free/grass fed ground beef there and I feel ok about it. I’d buy organic if they had it :/. I don’t usually get chicken there, but my husband has once or twice.
    When I buy organic bananas at stop and shop for my 6.5 month old they are 99/lb. Ridiculous. I order organic formula (to avoid hormones) thru my dad’s Costco account (wasn’t planning on needing formula at all), but wow is that stuff expensive. I’m going to start saving my receipts and really comparing. There has to be a balance between reigning it in and spending the day driving around.

  16. Rachael

    I am happy to see this post. When I see other grocery budget posts, I am always amazed how low people’s grocery bills are, regardless of how expensive their meal plans appear. My husband and I live in Connecticut with our school age child, toddler, and newborn. We don’t eat everything organic and I carefully plan all of our meals, yet I find it nearly impossible to keep our grocery bill under $200 a week (and some weeks it’s much more). Your grocery budget issues seem very real and reasonable to me and I look forward to seeing more posts to help myself improve my family’s grocery budget.

  17. It seems as though we are all in the same boat. Despite my best efforts in meal planning, couponing, and shopping around we still spend A LOT in groceries. Too much in my opinion. I always try to buy the best quality food as possible but I really do feel like it shouldn’t cost so much. I’m hoping these comments make you feel a little better about your grocery expenses. After I read them I didn’t feel quite as bad.

  18. Mary

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with spending more on groceries when you prioritize quality, healthy, organic foods. Buying this kind of food is something I feel very passionate about and I support anyone who shops this way. I really love the quote from Food, inc. something along the lines of, “With every dollar you spend at the grocery store, you’re voting for organic (or not), local (or not)”. Which is so true!

    I’ll second the person asking if you have a Trader Joe’s near you. Much cheaper for basics like canned goods, English muffins, etc, but with the same quality as WFs. Also, really pay attention to what doesn’t get eaten or goes bad by the end of the week. If you’re really using everything you buy, well, I’d say quantity isn’t the problem.

  19. marie

    I noticed that you bought seltzer water. Have you considered a Soda Stream? DH & I were able to cut a bit out of our food budget by switching from bottled still & fizzy water to a Brita & Soda Stream. If you’re unfamiliar with them, here is a link to one–use a BBB 20% off coupon for added savings:


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